City leaders get update on Ike recovery efforts

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Today's is part of a weekly series of meetings that the mayor andn Harris County Judge Ed Emmett wanted to have to make sure that FEMA and other agencies are doing all they can to make sure that the families that need help are getting that help.

The bulk of today's meeting was spent talking about timing. The mayor says he doesn't understand why there has to be so many steps for families to take to get housing assistance from FEMA.

Today, more than 7,000 families have applied for that assistance through FEMA, which in turn makes recommendations to HUD. HUD then forwards the information to local city and county housing authority offices.

The mayor feels that the middle step should be eliminated. He plans to ask the secretary of HUD on the national level why they can't skip that step.

"I want HUD just to record the information in its computers and pass it on within 24 hours to the local housing authorities," said Mayor White. "They don't need to do an independent assessment of needs because that has already been done."

There is also concern by Judge Emmett that the number of people in the county who need assistance aren't getting it properly because so many people in the city have applied for that assistance.

"I have said over and over and I don't make light of somebody whose house has been damaged. That is a whole different situation then from somebody's house has been completely destroyed," said Judge Emmett. "I just want to be sure that in places like Shore Acres and places like that are getting all of the assistance they need and that they are at the top of the priority list."

There has been $8.5 million donated in the city's Ike Recovery Fund and at least $4.1 million has already gone out to assist families. The fund just got a big boost from singer Neil Diamond who donated $930,000.

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